5 podcasts to lighten the mood

NEW YORK • As the coronavirus continues to rage and Hollywood's production shutdown persists, new episodes of television sitcoms may soon be in short supply. But that does not mean you need to forgo a comedy fix. Whether you are craving the binge-worthy laughs of a scripted series or the electric wit of live sets, these five podcasts will bring you some much-needed comic relief.

1 BODEGA BOYS

Before the Bronx comedy duo Desus Nice and the Kid Mero became widely known as the hosts of their selftitled late-night Showtime series, they built a loyal following through their consistently hilarious Bodega Boys podcast.

This weekly two-hander shows off their chemistry, observational humour and impeccable comic timing.

The longtime friends riff at breakneck speed on subjects both broad and niche. Some weeks they delve into pop culture or roast politicians, while other episodes are full of slice-of-life anecdotes about the duo's past and present lives in New York City.

Bodega Boys is one of the best examples of podcasts' ability to showcase future stars.

2 A VERY FATAL MURDER

Early in the first episode of this scripted mockumentary from The Onion, there is a skit that perfectly captures how the show skewers true-crime podcasting.

The fictional host, David Pascall - voiced by David Sidorov in an earnest monotone - enlists a supercomputer to help him find a murder case that is tailor-made for a podcast investigation.

"Set a filter for female victims only," he tells the bot, explaining that he needs to find a culturally relevant and thought-provoking case that also involves "a murder where a really hot white girl dies".

After identifying the perfect (fictional) murder of a prom queen in a small factory town, A Very Fatal Murder delivers snappy 15-minute bursts of true-crime satire, complete with incongruously chirpy ads for fake meal-delivery services that interrupt the gruesome murder investigation.

3 LAS CULTURISTAS

There is no shortage of podcasts that follow the basic format of Las Culturistas: witty banter between co-hosts, followed by a guest-of-the-week interview.

But thanks to comedians Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers' palpable passion for pop culture, this is one joyful and uplifting audio experience with a perfect balance of snark and heart.

In each episode, a guest discusses the pop culture that shaped him or her - and, in a regular segment titled I Don't Think So, Honey!, rants for 60 seconds about a pop culture pet peeve.

Even as the hosts have found wider recognition - Yang recently became the first Chinese-American cast member on Saturday Night Live - the show has avoided becoming too insider-y, retaining the relatable perspective that makes it such a rewarding listen.

4 NO SUCH THING AS A FISH

For fans of the beloved British comedy mainstay QI, the emphasis on obscure trivia in this spin-off podcast will feel familiar. For the uninitiated, No Such Thing As A Fish sees the researchers behind QI, which stands for Quite Interesting, discuss the best surprising facts they've recently learnt, like the eponymous fact that there is, in fact, no such thing as a fish.

Hosts Dan Schreiber, James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray and Anna Ptaszynski have such a wealth of weird, fascinating knowledge at their fingertips that the show has never had a dud episode in its six-year run.

5 THE READ

The self-described mission of this show from comedians Kid Fury and Crissle West is "throwing shade and spilling tea with a flippant and humorous attitude", which means delivering frank truths about pop culture and its stars.

Now in its seventh year, the episodes break down into a few broad segments: the drily hilarious Fury and West discuss pop culture news, respond to listener e-mails and hand out a weekly Black Excellence award.

Finally they "read" (give their brutally honest opinions on) a person, trend or event, delivering well-deserved takedowns with nuance and a lightness that never feels mean-spirited.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2020, with the headline '5 podcasts to lighten the mood'. Print Edition | Subscribe